Pilgrim on a Lonely Journey

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

This is the week of the mass American pilgrimage. Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, is the day we Americans travel home. It is the one holiday we all share, no matter what our religion. The day when we gather as families.

Some of us will have genuinely happy reunions. The stuff of Norman Rockwell.

 

Image from Office of War Information, 1942, wikimedia commons.

Image from Office of War Information, 1942,
wikimedia commons.

 

Most of us will have mixed days. A bit of hassle and a family fuss getting out the door. Then we will roll our eyes at Uncle Freddie’s bad jokes and Aunt Marge complaining that the dressing is dry. But once everyone settles in for the football, it will all be good.

For some, though, Thanksgiving will be a gut-wrenching ordeal — an endurance test of dysfunctional abuse that demoralizes and convinces us that we deserve nothing from life but the crumbs of inadequacy and failed expectations.

Most people who persist in that brutal existence do so from habit and from the fear of change. But a brave few walk away into the unknown with the conviction that whatever lies ahead, it cannot be worse than the hell they left behind. They quit showing up for the beatings.

 

Canstock 2014 Girl Alone with Suitcase

If you are having joyful reunions this week, we celebrate with you. Such family experiences are the source of strength that sustains us through life’s turmoil.

If you are biting your tongue in between hugs and laughter, we admire you for your tolerance and commitment. Such commitment is the foundation of civilization.

If you are suffering, our hearts and prayers go out to you in the hopes that one day, you too will get out.

And if you are one of the ones who walked away, we salute you. You will be alone this week, or with close friends, or with people you barely know who have unfamiliar traditions. If you have persevered down your lonely path, you may even be with a new family by now, making Norman Rockwell jealous.

We know what it took for you to walk away, and we count you as our family. Your “not being there” didn’t come for free, and we honor the price you pay each day. It never gets easy, but it does get better. This song says it all.

 

 

Wherever you are in Life’s pilgrimage this Thanksgiving, we wish you peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mom’s Dating Tips — Bonds of Love or Bonds of Crazy?

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

Everyone is a head case. The only question is whether they are a head case you can live with. ~ Mom

In the first article, First Be Happy Alone, we looked at why the first step to being happy with someone else is learning to be happy alone. A full cup attracts a full cup. If you’re happy alone, then it’s time to open yourself to the world of opportunities.

Opening yourself means you have to get rid of pre-conceived notions. The fact is that you might not know what you need. Trust that God, Life, the Universe, your Higher Power, or simply your Inner Good Sense does know. In other words, don’t stay trapped in a box of what you think you want. Open yourself to what you need.

 

Canstock 2015 Aug Think Outside Box

 

Relationships are journeys of discovery. They are not enactments of pre-conceived fantasies.

Forget thinking that you must have crazy hot chemistry the moment your eyes meet. Crazy hot chemistry – the kind that makes you want to jump a stranger right there in the produce section of the grocery store – is exciting and makes us feel alive and tingly, but it’s still CRAZY. The fact is that our hottest attractions occur when our own crazy meets a compatible crazy. Crazy sucks onto crazy like a fanatic sucks onto dogma. Crazy is not a basis to build a life together.

Crazy is attracted to crazy in the hope that if you can fix each other’s crazy, it will somehow fix your own. In reality, though, the only thing crazy can build together is more crazy. This results in one of two inevitabilities. You spend your lives in an increasingly miserable death spiral, OR, one of you gets better, and the bond is broken. The classic example is the alcoholic and the co-dependent. They either die inch by inch together in alternating ecstasy and misery without ever building a stable life, or one of the two gets better, and the relationship falls apart.

Crazy love sparks the firestorm that burns down our world.

Lasting love is the hearth fire that warms us for a lifetime.

Bonds of love are bonds of solace and refuge that are built over time. They nurture each partner while nurturing the relationship. And don’t worry. This does not preclude hot sex. The difference is that the hot sex is real and solid, and you’re in the room with your mate and not lost in your head with someone you don’t even really know outside of crazy. It’s an exchange of nurturing love rather than an expression of needs that the relationship cannot fill.

 

Canstock 2015 Aug Hearth Fire with warming feet

 

Signs You’re Bonded in Crazy

This is not a comprehensive list, but it hits some major points.

  • You understand each other’s pain before the dessert course.

Bonds of pain are at the foundation of crazy love, and they can be a force of nature. Finding someone with matching scars is like reaching an island in an endless stormy ocean, and it is one hot, steamy island. But unless there is a great deal more to the relationship, you either indulge each other’s pain for the duration, or, the moment one of you starts to heal, the bond is broken.

  • You fall into bed and ask questions later.
  • You have the same strengths and the same weaknesses.
  • You overlook Red Flags* and plow forward without resolution.
  • You make excuses for the other person’s words and behavior.
  • You keep the relationship compartmentalized from your family and friends.
  • When you are together with family or friends, you act differently than you would if the other wasn’t there.
  • You treat the other like a fixer-upper, focusing on who the other can be rather than who the other is right now, today.

 

So much potential!

So much potential!

 

Signs You’re Bonded in Love

  • You learn each other’s life stories over time.
  • You become friends who genuinely enjoy each other’s company before you become lovers.

As we discussed in the last article, sex is easy. Love takes time and commitment. The vast majority of relationships that begin in the bedroom never make it to the altar, much less through a lifetime. Think of controlling yourselves as a way of respecting the sacred relationship you want to share. It also builds trust in that you show each other that you aren’t slaves to lust – something anyone married over a decade can tell you will be a potential danger to the relationship at some point. Establish that you are up to the challenges to come.

  • You have different strengths and weaknesses, preferably complimentary ones that will help you draw strength from each other.
  • There are no unmitigated Red Flags.*
  • You are comfortable with the other’s words and behavior.
  • You socialize easily with each other’s friends.
  • You are drawn to who the other is today, not who the other might be tomorrow.

 

Canstock 2015 Aug Family with a Home in its hands

 

At the heart, lifelong relationships are about time and boundaries. A dear friend once explained it to me like this . . .

You are in the center of multiple circles of fence. Not walls. Fence. When you meet someone, go to the outer circle, and stand behind your fence. Chat over the fence for a bit. If you’re comfortable with them, open the gate and let them in to where you were standing while you go behind the next fence. Wash, rinse, repeat. THE CHOICE TO OPEN A GATE IS COMPLETELY YOURS. You don’t owe an open gate to anyone. Not anyone. Most people will remain in those outer circles as acquaintances. Some will come in several layers and be good friends. And, in time, one will make it in far enough to be your mate for life, and a mate for life is worth the investment of a little time.

Now give yourself a hug and be good to yourself today.

Many blessings,

Mom

*Red Flags are signs that you’re barking up the wrong skivvies. We’ll talk about those next time.

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

When it comes to dating, Piper Bayard did it wrong, and then she did it right. She’s now been happily married for over two decades and is passing on the tips that helped her find a solid partner in building a life and a family.

Piper Bayard, is also an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, coming soon!

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

Mom’s Dating Tips — First Be Happy Alone

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

I’ve often posted dating tips on FB. This post is in response to friends there who have asked me to elaborate . . .

“Seducing someone is almost as difficult as watching ice melt, but not quite. You can do better.” ~ Mom

 

Canstock 2015 Aug Melting Ice

 

It’s easy to find sex.

Almost all of the population wants it at any given moment of any given day, and regardless of your sexual orientation, half the horny people on the planet are potential sex partners.

But finding a life partner? That’s another matter altogether.

The most important step to finding a life partner is to learn to be happy alone. Yes, that’s right. Learn to be happy alone. That way, you won’t settle for a toxic relationship just because you’re afraid of the sound of your own head rattling around in an empty house.

But wait a minute, you say. If I were happy alone, why would I bother dating at all?

Because when you’re happy alone, you end up with more of yourself than you need. You develop an abundance of spirit that makes you want to share yourself with someone else. You are an overflowing cup that seeks another vessel to fill. That “other vessel” is the “We” of a relationship.

Relationships have an “I,” a “You,” and a “We.”

People who aren’t happy alone are half full cups. They find other half full cups and empty themselves into a third cup – the “We” cup. Since the “I” and “You” are now empty cups, they draw from the “We” without having anything left to nurture it, and the “We” runs dry.

People who are full cups attract other full cups, and together, they make a “We” cup that holds their overflow. The relationship is about giving to the “We,” and not about taking from it. The “We” is a creation born from abundance and not from want, so it doesn’t run dry.

 

Full "I" + Full "You" = Full "We"

Full “I” + Full “You” = Full “We”

 

Great, you say. So how do I start being happy alone?

  • First, clean your room. Seriously. Clean your room. Messy surroundings sap the spirit, and you’re going for abundance here.
  • Treat yourself with class. You matter.
  • Ask yourself what it is that you want someone else to give you, and find ways to give those things to yourself.
  • Figure out if you have unresolved pain. That’s the restlessness that keeps you overscheduling your life and seeking out social media in lieu of quiet time alone with your head.
  • Get help to resolve that pain. Find a competent professional or a good friend who can guide you to a better place, so that time alone with yourself doesn’t scare you anymore.
  • Make a list of twenty things you want to do in the next five years.
  • Turn off the computer, pick something off of the list, and go do it.
  • Get rid of the people in your life who don’t respect you. Likewise, get rid of the ones you don’t respect. You and your time are too precious to share with anyone who doesn’t feed your dreams and nurture your soul.
  • Cook good meals for yourself. Feeding yourself well is the most nurturing thing you can do for both your body and your soul.
  • Actively seek out laughter and beauty. Both fill the spirit and lead to happiness.

Now give yourself a hug and enjoy the feel of your own embrace. Stop waiting for someone to come along make you happy. Love yourself, and the happy will come, and with it, a fellow full cup.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

When it comes to dating, Piper Bayard did it wrong, and then she did it right. She’s now been happily married for over two decades and is passing on the tips that helped her find a solid partner in building a life and a family.

Piper Bayard is also an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

 

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

The Happy Man Manual — Valentine’s Day

By Piper Bayard

Guys get the short end of the stick on Valentine’s Day. It’s a day that’s geared toward women. Make her happy, win her heart, pop that question. Buy her roses, get her chocolates, give her a massage, say things to make her swoon. Everywhere men look, television, magazines, the internet, and their girlfriends and wives bombard them with expectations, most of which they can never meet.

Valentine's Day Tree Johntex wikimedia

image by Johntex, wikimedia commons

Women, on the other hand, have it easy. That’s because men come with a three sentence Happy Man Manual: 1) Feed me; 2) Feed my ego; 3) Feed my libido. If a woman does at least two of those three things, she’s made him happy. Three, and bliss ensues. As a result, pleasing men on Valentine’s Day, or any other day, is almost as difficult as watching ice melt, but not quite.

To test this, I asked my husband to suggest ten things women can do to please their men on Valentine’s Day. This was his response:

  1. Show up naked.
  2. Show up naked.
  3. Show up naked.
  4. Show up in a negligee.
  5. Cook his favorite chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy and chocolate cake.
  6. And make those little prosciutto pastry pinwheels to go with that.
  7. Say again what a good job he did remodeling the bathroom.
  8. Tell him now that you’re with him, you don’t think about Jason Stathom anymore.
  9. Bake him some cookies.
  10. Ask him to show up naked.

So this Valentine’s Day, my heart goes out to men everywhere. Thank you for being men in all of your simple glory. The fact is that if you weren’t so easy, you would have put an end to this holiday before it even got off the ground. I appreciate it that you didn’t. I’m looking forward to whatever creative surprise my husband comes up with this year, whether it’s a pink hat or a heart-shaped mug warmer. Perhaps I’ll thank him with a chocolate cake. Among other things.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Hospice: Telling People I See Their Butts

By Piper Bayard

Someone recently asked me what I do as a Hospice volunteer, and I told her that basically, it’s my job to tell people I see their butts.

Hospice is a service dedicated to providing people with the most comfortable death possible. We tend to physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients who usually have less than six months to live. We call ourselves midwives because each of us has felt that overlap between this life and the next as heaven opens to receive its newest child.

image by I. Craig, wikimedia commons

When I first told my friends I was training for Hospice, I got a number of reactions.

1. Uhmm . . . Better you than me.

2.  Wow. I could never do that.

3.  She’s such a Drama Queen that should be perfect for her. (Said behind my back by a catty belly dancer and passed on to me by another catty belly dancer.)

Most often, though, I got a mystified look and a disbelieving shake of the head with the question, “Why?”

The smartass answer? Because it’s easier to deal with dying people than with my teens. Dying people are a temporary commitment, but my teens want to hang out on my couch and eat my groceries forever.

The real answer? Because when my mother was dying, I was all she had. Since my children were young, I couldn’t be with her at the nursing home more than a few hours a day. I really wished someone could sit with her when I couldn’t. So after she died, I realized that was something I could give to someone else.

One thing I’ve learned from my work is that dying people tell the best stories. They are a hoot. I’ll be talking with a woman who looks like the quintessential grandma. You know, the kind that bakes cakes that really do look like Thomas the Tank Engine and flinches at the word “sex” because she couldn’t possibly have ever had it. No grandma ever has, right?

So I’ll be talking to this grandma with wise eyes and perfectly coiffed hair, except for that messy spot that mushes up against her pillow, and she will tell me some crazy stories from the youth her family never knew she had. She thought she was so smart at fourteen, smoking in the bathroom and blowing it out the window, until she opened the door to find her father standing there. She stole away from home at seventeen to elope with a boy, only to jump out of the car at the Washita bridge in the middle of the night and run all the way home, still single. At forty, she and her friend got a wild hair one day and did a “Thelma and Louise” cross-country, but without the flying leap at the end. Ten days later, their husbands both took them back.

image from “Thelma and Louise”

And then there are the other stories. How her mother and father stopped speaking after that night he came home so late, and the family grew cold and distant. How she regretted not marrying that man she left at the Washita bridge. How her husband didn’t really die of a heart attack like she always told the world, but that he committed suicide, and she never knew why.

As humans, we have a deep need to say, “Yes. I was here. Did you see me?” We need to know we did not grow and bloom and die in a vacuum. We need validation, because parts of us are like our butts. We can’t see our butts. We may feel them, but we need a mirror or a friend to tell us what they look like. As a Hospice volunteer, I give people the gift of letting them know I see their butts. Yes. Those parts of you are here, and I see you.

Today, I’m dedicating this blog to Teri Parks, who was born into a new life almost a month ago. She loved to laugh. Not only was she the best Mrs. Claus ever, but she also threw the social event of the season every 4th of July with a dozen fried turkeys, bubble-blowing guns, horseshoes, music, and 150 of her closest friends. The world is a little colder with her passing.

When I went to visit her on her last day, she had the greatest blessing a soul can earn in this life. A room full of loving family and friends, talking and laughing and remembering with her, confirming for her that, yes. She was here, and they saw her. All of her. And she was beautiful.

Do you have witness in your life who tells you they see your butt? Do you do that for someone else?

All the best to all of you for a week of validation.

Our Wish-We’d-Missed Connections

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

Last week, two of our favorites, Jenny Hansen and Natalie Hartford, brought to our attention something called the Craigslist Missed Connections. Those are the ads people put up on Craigslist in an effort to find someone they saw in passing, or even someone they know but are too shy to approach.

Holmes and I, who are both happy with the connections we have, are more concerned with never connecting with certain people again. These are a few Wish-We’d-Missed Connections.

Cupid Triumphant by Bertel Thorvaldsen, image by Carsten Norgaard, Wikimedia Commons

Je Ne Sais Quoi

I saw you at Le Cafe Tres Cher. I am the man who was sitting with my back to the wall near the door. You are a tall, dark, mysterious woman. You had on that short red skirt and those lovely stiletto heels. What legs! Our eyes met as you sauntered past me. You had that je ne sais quoi air about you. I nearly gagged. That’s what happens when you don’t shower for three days.

For God’s sake, take some mercy on us. Ask the boys at Fire Station 17 to hose you down and then find another place to drink your damned coffee!

Clean Up on Aisle Nine

You smiled at me when our shopping carts passed in the vegetable aisle. I was startled because you look like a woman I once knew in Europe during the Cold War. You were wearing a green work out suit. Your lovely blonde hair was in a pony tail. You looked so charmingly girlish. I saw you again in the pharmacy section, and then you tried to follow me into the snack section. You smiled again, giving me chills. The last woman who smiled at me like that tried to knife me in the parking lot.

Fortunately, I was too fast for you, and when I tipped over the potato chip rack it blocked your path and I escaped. Find another place to shop, you psychopath! If I see you at my supermarket again I’m going to knock you upside the head with a frozen turkey and leave you unconscious in the refrigerator aisle to die a cold and lonely death.

Roman Holiday

Our paths crossed on the bus in Rome when I was but a shy teenage girl away from home for the first time. The bus was packed, and your body pressed against my backside. I tried to shift, certain a full grown man like you would never be comfortable being so close to an ingenue like me.

To my dismay, there was absolutely nowhere to move in the crush of flesh. But you, however, found the one way you could move, pressing your disgusting, corpulent, ancient self against me over and over. Honestly! What would your wife, children, and grandchildren think of you if they knew you behave in public like Burlusconi with a meter maid? If I ever see you again, you effing pervert, you will wish I was as nice as Lorena Bobbitt.

Virtual Reality

Holmes and I met you in the Scorpion Pit on the virtual reality game our kids got us sucked into. You began by telling my avatar, “You’re hot.”

New to the game and having no experience with cyber-mashers, I was confused, wondering how small you must be to be hitting on a three-inch computer image. While I was trying to picture that, Holmes began repeating back to you all of the pick up lines you were using on me.

Then it was your turn to be confused. You asked Holmes, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

To which Holmes replied, “I’m both. I have girl parts and boy parts.”

You said, “Wow! Really? Do you pee like a girl or like a boy?”

Holmes said, “I do both at the same time.”

Things became more absurd from there. You were clearly fascinated with Holmes’ fictional description of the body functions of a hermaphrodite, and you tried to find out where he lives for half an hour until we tired of laughing at you and blocked you. You are undoubtedly the sickest person we have ever met online. Don’t come near us. Don’t come near our families. Don’t come near our friends, and don’t come near our avatars or you will find out how well a charged up virtual Scarlett Death Arbalest works against a Smith & Wesson.

Three of these Wish-We’d-Missed Connections are real and one is false. Can you guess which one is false?

We’ll reveal the truth on Friday in The End is Near Mashup.

While you’re waiting with bated breath to find out which creep you don’t have to worry about running into, check out some Craig’s List Missed Connections over at Jenny Henson’s More Cowbell and Natalie Hartford’s Life Out Loud.

What are some connections you wish you had missed?

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Piper Bayard is a recovering attorney with a university degree or two and a belly dancer from way back. She currently pens post-apocalyptic sci-fi and spy novels with Holmes when she isn’t shooting, SCUBA diving, or chauffeuring her children.

 ‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. Piper is the public face of their partnership.

© 2012 Piper Bayard. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.

Everything I Need to Know about Twitter I Learned from Hospice

By Piper Bayard

As some of you know, I volunteered with Hospice for a time. I am also blessed with the best tweeps (Twitter friends) on the planet. So much so that lately a few people have come to me for advice about how to find such amazing tweeps. It’s simple. I treat everyone like they are about to die.

George Washington on His Deathbed by Junius Steams

No, I don’t ask them for their stuff. . . . Well, okay, there was this one woman. But I knew her melodramatic threats to kill herself with a spork while reading my first manuscript were completely insincere. I mean, she doesn’t even go camping to own a spork. Though come to think of it, I haven’t heard from her for a while. But I digress. . . .

This calls for a list. When people are dying . . .

1. We don’t judge them.

Their Judgement Day will come soon enough, and the Big It needs no assistance from us on that score.

2. We do listen to them.

In that moment, they are more important than we are so we keep our mouths shut and our ears open.

3. We do let them know they are heard.

This doesn’t mean we agree with everything they say. It means we validate that they said it. One way to let them know we heard them is to say, “That sounds . . .” Difficult, painful, amazing, intense, etc. I mean, when someone tells us their mom is in the ICU, it’s not hard to find an adjective. It does sound painful and intense. When they tell us the book contract came through, it does sound joyful.

4. We don’t argue.

Letting people know we heard what they said is not the same as agreeing with them so we are not violating our integrity when we refrain from disagreeing. “It sounds like you feel quite passionate about that.”

5. We don’t offer unsolicited advice.

Most of the time when we want to fix other people’s problems, it has nothing to do with being nice people. It’s because their misery is making us uncomfortable. So we understand that other peoples problems are not ours–we have plenty of our own–and we simply provide our presence unless they specifically ask for something more. “That sounds like a difficult situation.”

6. We don’t whine about our problems.

It’s one thing when we share the truth of our lives, such as our allergies, our sudden hospitalizations, or our sadness when a child leaves home. It’s another to whine about our hemorrhoids. (Note: Hemorrhoids are those pains in the butt that never really go away, like wretched stepmothers, drunken relatives, or abandonment issues.) Dying people may be interested in us, but NO ONE wants to hear about our life’s ‘hemorrhoids’.

7. We do validate their feelings.

When they say they are angry because a new jerk on their HOA board is going through their neighborhood counting dandelions and sending out violation notices, “I can see why you would be upset about that.”

8. We do validate their lives.

We read their words and comment on their pictures, and we let them know we are a witness to their existence. People need to know we see them.

9. We do find sincere, positive things to say.

We notice their accomplishments. We notice their efforts. We notice the beauty of the day.

10. We do show our gratitude.

We say thank you. Because every single time they share themselves with us, it is a gift we may never experience again. And every single time, they didn’t have to do it.

Making great Twitter friends is simple, because it’s like life. What we give is all that matters, and we may never get the chance to give to this person again. So treat everyone like they are dying.

Or, as William Shatner says, “Live life like you’re gonna die, because you’re gonna.”

I’d love to chat with you while we’re here. Please follow me on Twitter at@piperbayard and say hello. I always follow back humans. You can also find some awesome Twitter friends at the hashtag #theconnecter.

What social media tips would you like to share, and how did you learn them?

My sincere gratitude to each of you for sharing this moment in time with me.